More about Wintering in Puerto Vallarta.
Speaking Spanish is not really necessary. I work at it but mostly for fun. Cab drivers will help you if you pronounce something wrong. But always in a kind and informative way. Be careful if you try to negotiate in Spanish because if they think you understand they will give you the price in pesos and your Spanish might not be that good! There is a club you can join for $30 USD a year called the International Friendship Club and they have informal Spanish lessons two mornings a week for $25 pesos ($2.50 USD) that is also a good way to meet people. They do lots of charity work in PV and it is a way to get involved in the community.
Cabs are plentiful and there is also cheap bus service. Cabs charge by the zone. So the cost from one zone to the next is about $30 peso ($3 USD). Add an extra $10 pesos ($1 USD) per zone. This price includes your tip. That being said, you still need to negotiate the price before you get in. Cab drivers are very friendly and speak more English than most of us speak Spanish. The one exception to cheap cab fares is coming from the airport. They have white vans that are regulated and cabs cannot come in to pick you up. So you will pay about $30-$40 USD for your first cab ride then everything after that is inexpensive and regular cabs are small Nissans. The ride back to the airport is around $10. Go figure! I guess government bureaucracy is everywhere!
They also have good bus service for 50 cents if you don’t mind a little local flavor. They are hot and full of locals but everyone is friendly and the front window has all of the stops listed. They come quite frequently, as a matter of fact they are privately owned and compete with each other so there will be more buses than you can imagine! Make sure you rent a couple of blocks away from the main bus routes as they are very noisy. But if you are out at the Marina or down in Conchas Chinas they can come in handy. They even have a bus route to Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart…
This brings us to Shopping. There are numerous grocery stores. The ones used by the locals are the best and the least expensive. I have bought three avocados for 58 cents! The one in the Zona Romantica is nice but a little more expensive. The produce in Mexico is by far the best buy. If you are willing to take a cab a little farther north you can get much lower prices but then you have a $4 (USD) cab ride back. Still worth it if you have the time and are there for awhile.
As to clothing, this is not America. The styles are different and more beach wear.
But the gifts are interesting and the art is fantastic, if not still a little expensive. The deals of a few years ago are basically gone. I was in the market in the Cuale (River then that runs perpendicular to the ocean) and a young man was waiting on me while busy text messaging his girlfriend! They start out at a price and you can basically barter down to about 1/3 to 40% off of the original asking price. It is part of the game. But if it a regular shop, there is usually no negotiation.
BEACH BARTERING. Some people love it, some people hate it but sit at a bar at the beach and have a beer or a Margarita and the beach sellers invade! Each year they come up with new things and, truthfully, many are very nice. We bought a bunch of beautiful shell and abalone bottle openers that are gorgeous. We ended u buying quite a few as gifts and got them down to $10 a piece. No doubt next year there will be something bigger and better. The jewelry is amazing, both in the regular shops and along the beach. I recommend checking out the shops first then seeing what the beach vendors have. At that point you have a much better idea of the value. The shops will weigh all of the silver and give a 10% discount for cash. The negotiations on the beach are always fun when you are with friends! Again even a beach seller has better English skills than you do Spanish. Don’t underestimate them!